Cards give struggling Rolen, ailing shoulder rest in Game 4

Monday, October 9, 2006

ST. LOUIS -- Scott Rolen was dropped from the St. Louis Cardinals' starting lineup for Game 4 of the NL playoffs against San Diego on Sunday night after hitting just .091 in the series and saying he had shoulder fatigue.

Scott Spiezio started at third base against Woody Williams. Spiezio was 0-for-1 in the first three games of the first-round playoff.

Rolen hit .296 with 22 homers and 95 RBIs during the regular season after missing most of 2005 because of a shoulder injury that required two operations. But he slumped to a .225 from Sept. 1 on three homers and 14 RBIs.

Rolen was 1-for-11 in the series against San Diego, his lone hit a bloop double in the opener. He was 0-for-4 in Saturday's 3-1 loss, striking out twice.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said Rolen approached him after the game and said his shoulder "felt sort of fatigued." He said the six-time Gold Glove third baseman could possibly play in the field, but would likely not be used as a pinch-hitter.

"I felt like I had a responsibility to go into Tony and tell him exactly how I feel," Rolen said. "I had four at-bats yesterday and I didn't have a competitive at-bat."

Rolen said team physician Dr. George Paletta told him his shoulder "was going in the wrong direction."

La Russa said Rolen might be back in the lineup for the NL championship series, which opens Wednesday.

"It may get better in three days especially if there's something that can be done to alleviate the situation," La Russa said.

Cardinals trainer Barry Weinberg will monitor Rolen's condition.

"We'll just try to treat him for his discomfort and inflammation, and try to get it down," Weinberg said.

Spiezio entered 3-for-11 (.273) against Williams -- with all three hits homers.

Spiezio hit .327 with 10 runs in the 2002 postseason for the Angels.

"It seems like every time he starts a game he's doing something to help us win," La Russa said.

La Russa said Rolen has been asked about the shoulder frequently and before Saturday always responded that it felt fine.

"I do think we've stressed so many times to the whole club that that's not the smartest way to go about it," La Russa said. "I think you want to have players be straightforward about how they feel."

Spiezio said it has been obvious for some time that Rolen was hurting.

"It's not a situation we like as a team because Rolen's one of our cornerstones and, hopefully, he can come back and contribute in a whole lot of ways," Spiezio said.

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